MT. SAMAT, Bataan, Nov. 29, 2011—In a first for the diocese, the Diocesan Youth Ministry (DYM) of Balanga officially recognized outstanding youth leaders during the annual Mt. Samat Youth pilgrimage last Saturday.
Models to ‘look up to’
Following an encouragement from the CBCP – Episcopal Commission on Youth to honor young, inspiring leaders in celebration of the CBCP – Year of the Youth, Balanga recognized Jay Quicho, Allen Bangug, Terry Suba, Anthony Bliss, Mary Anne Carbonilla, Amelia Reyes, Jiji De Villa – CYM, Sr. Ruby Rita Linsangan CYM, Tristan Ralf Pacheco and Shiela Salangsang as the ten ‘Most Outstanding Youth Leaders’ in the diocese.
Fr. Joshua Maria Santos, MMHC, the Balanga Diocesan Youth Director and chairperson of the Mt. Samat pilgrimage this year explained the reason for the awards, “We recognize them so that the [other] young leaders can look up to someone..[So that they can see] they are not alone in the ministry.”
Fr. Santos called the awardees “shining examples”.
Mix of ‘veterans’, new faces
The awardees were a mix of youth ministry ‘veterans’ and relatively new leaders from the different vicariates who have shown exemplary dedication and passion in serving the youth.
Fr. Santos described some of the awardees’ extraordinary contributions to the ministry, “[Sila ang mga] nagdadala ng thousands of youth to the World Youth Day, sila ang nagbibigay ng Youth Encounter not just in the diocese but in Central Luzon. Sila talaga ang iniinvite.”
Awards, enthusiasm booster
For some of the awardees, being awarded came as a surprise.
One of the awardees, Tristan Ralf Pacheco, 29, from the vicariate of St. Michael the Archangel, said, “Nung sinabi s’akin, nabigla po ako kasi ‘di ko naman ineexpect. Pakiramdam ko kasi, simple lang ako na youth leader. [When I was told, I was surprised because I didn’t expect it. It’s because I feel that I’m just a simple youth leader.]”
For Pacheco who had been serving actively in the parish youth ministry since 2005, the award is strengthening his commitment to the service, “Parang lalo na pong na-boost ang enthusiasm ko mag-serve pa, na maging mas responsable pa. [It’s as if my enthusiasm to serve has been boosted even more. It also makes me want to be even more responsible.]”
Around 25 nominees from the four vicariates of the diocese and the Campus Youth ministry were initially chosen.
The list was eventually trimmed down by the vicariate councils to ten outstanding youth leaders.
The awardees were recognized in a simple ceremony at the Dambana ng Kagitingan, which was the first program highlight during the Mt. Samat pilgrimage.
Number behind the pilgrimage
The youth-led Mt. Samat pilgrimage this year was the first time young people took the lead in organizing and planning for the event. Take a look at some of the numbers of the pilgrimage.
There are 30,000 pilgrims who hiked up Mt. Samat this year; 8,000 hosts were given during the Holy Mass at the summit; 53 youth animators who danced during the event; 9 committee heads who prepared for the event; it is already 8 years since the start of the pilgrimage which is done yearly; 20 priests concelebrated the Holy Mass; 100 Police personnel (PNP) mobilized during the event; 1 Bishop was present during the event; 10 awardees for the outstanding youth ministers; 2,000 signatures gathered for the Anti-RH Bill signature campaign during the pilgrimage, and the preparation was made for 5 months.
This year’s pilgrimage happened last Saturday, Nov. 26. The Mt. Samat Pilgrimage is an annual event that started in the year 2004. (Nirva’ana E. Delacruz)